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As far as age-related problems go, dementia is the one that people usually find the most frightening. It’s something that affects both the patient and their family, and those who take on the role of a caregiver might end up lost, confused, and unsure how to handle something that seems to be a very daunting task. While tough, it’s definitely not unmanageable. To help you develop good strategies and care for someone with dementia to ensure their happiness and comfort, you will need to know some key information.
Dementia is progressive
The disease is irreversible and it will gradually get worse over time. It’s very important to be realistic about this because denial will only make it harder on the family and the patient themselves, and you need to be able to recognize the symptoms and accept that they are a problem to deal with. Once you see and understand the situation you will be able to cope with it much better and develop strategies to make day-to-day life a lot easier.
It’s not just about memory loss
Aside from memory loss, a lot of patients will also experience confusion and personality changes. Some patients will become paranoid, some will become prone to anger outbursts. What’s also common is that some of their old memories might merge and they’ll start remembering experiences differently than they actually happened. It’s known as confabulation, and it’s important not to snap and argue with them because it will only frustrate them and they’ll end up being uncertain what they’re even frustrated about after a while. Steer the topic away to something more pleasant whenever you can and be patient. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is simply make sure they have taken their meds, make sure they know they are loved, and stay calm. They’ll feel better in a kind, relaxed environment where they aren’t constantly confused about why everyone around them is so tense.
Caregiver stress can be draining
Do not ignore your own stress. As much as you feel like self-sacrifice is always needed, it’s the worst possible way to deal with things because you won’t be able to help anyone if you are constantly tired, anxious, and snappy. Look into joining support groups where you will be able to get tips, advice, and simply vent about your own frustrations when you need it. Accept help from friends, family, and professionals, and make sure to take days off and engage in your favorite activities. Believe us, you will help your loved one a lot more this way than if you were to let your own health degrade.
Plan for the future
At one point, the patient will start needing 24-hour care and it’s possible that you’ll have to organize professional help to come in every day. An even better solution could be appropriate aged care facilities that specialize in dementia management. Here, the patient will be provided with all the necessary care and you’ll never have to worry whether they might wander off or harm themselves. It’s also a way to make sure they always take their meds and have doctors and nurses at hand who can monitor their condition. Start checking out facilities that are in your area and planning a possible budget for whatever may come your way.
Routine is everything
Patients and caretakers both thrive with a good daily routine. Make sure to stay consistent with when you give them their meals, when you visit them, when you play puzzle games, and give them their medicine. Get them used to things because this will help them have something to hold on to and it will help their memory stay preserved for longer. Also, always be patient and think about putting together a scrapbook with their fondest memories. Bring photo albums and browse them with your loved one often.
The most important thing is to embrace a good attitude to try to work on this as a family if you can. Never disregard your own health and needs, be patient, and stay realistic. Make sure to help your loved one focus on good experiences and memories and surround them with love and positivity.